By Chris Paredes, Web Content Developer for Evil Geniuses
The second of this season’s four Dota 2 majors is well underway in Shanghai. With the group stage over, eight teams now sit in the upper bracket teams and will enjoy the safety net of double elimination whilst the other eight in the lower bracket are only a single game away from joining beloved host 2GD in early elimination. The competition will only get more intense from here on out, and with a new production crew coming in to ensure the rest of the tournament runs smoothly, there is no better time to tune in. For those who haven’t been following the tournament closely, there are two matches in particular that promise intrigue.
Virtus.Pro vs. ViCi Gaming
The first must see opening round match-up in the playoffs will be the lower bracket duel between VP and VG. This match comes as a surprise as both of these teams were considered relatively safe bets to advance out of their groups into the upper bracket. While VP had the unfortunate luck of being grouped with EG, the Russians were still heavy favorites to come out in 2nd after their strong run at The Summit 4 where they pushed the defending TI champs to the brink in the Grand Finals. Meanwhile VG were also favored to take 2nd in their group over the untested Spirit and the slumping Fnatic.
VG is arguably the more talented lot between the two; both teams’ rosters are substantially similar to their TI5 line-ups, where VG finished 4th slightly ahead of VP’s 5th/6th. The Chinese retained their battle tested core and added the venerated legend BurNIng to man the carry slot. But for some time it has felt like VG has been falling short of their potential. Only a short year ago, it seems like every international tournament had VG going toe to toe with EG in the Grand Finals. However since DAC, VG’s only premier title has been StarLadder XII and even when the team places high they never feel like a threat to take the title. While VP hasn’t had a title since their breakthrough at TI5, they looked nearly unstoppable during their lower bracket run at TS4 — better than either team has looked all year. With tournament life on the line, both teams are sure to pull out all the stops this do-or-die elimination bout.
MVP vs. LGD
Our second must see match is the upper bracket match between LGD and MVP. This match is also a big surprise. While LGD was a solid bet to survive its group, MVP pulled a tremendous upset to emerge out of their group. The Koreans made a statement about the growth of the fledgling Korean scene with their overachieving 7th/8th finish at TI5, but they have been relatively quiet since with their only premier tournament appearance being a 5th/6th finish at the MLG World Finals. Therefore it was completely unexpected for MVP to emerge as the winner in their group of three direct invitees — CDEC, EHOME, and Secret. While CDEC is arguably in a slump, Secret has been resurgent in recent weeks and EHOME entered the tournament on a three tournament win streak, including a win over EG at MDL. If the break hasn’t stolen the fire from the red hot MVP, this could be a real barn burner.
However, the rise and fall of CDEC this year has proven that there is a significant advantage to flying under the radar. With the scheduled break allowing LGD ample time to scout their opponent, the element of surprise may be lost. In a more stabilized setting, the odds may reset to favoring the battle-tested LGD veterans. While LGD was hit harder than most in post-TI5 roster shuffle on account of losing their legendary captain Xiao8, the team seems to have found a rhythm in the months since the Frankfurt Fall Major. LGD was recently able to push the streaking Alliance to the edge in the Grand Finals of World Cyber Arena before falling 2-3. LGD also managed to push EG to match point in the semifinals of StarLadder XIII.